Every conflict has heroes, and each side determines who theirs are. For the United States in World War II, they were the men who stormed the beaches of Normandy, the Marines at Iwo Jima, and the servicemen who protected Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack. December 7th, 2016 marks the 75th anniversary of the day the United States was pulled into World War II and the anniversary of the deaths of thousands of fallen soldiers. The moment the first bomb struck at 7:48 in the morning, heroes were made.
One primary goal of the many memorials and tributes at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument and of the exhibits at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is to honor those heroes. From the fallen many to those who survived and continued fighting the war, the story of these brave servicemen is commemorated at each stop around Pearl Harbor.
75 years later, Pearl Harbor still stands as a living memorial to the heroism of that tragic day in 1941; and though it’s been three-quarters of a century since the attacks, the impact of the stories told never wanes. Even though many of the men who survived have since passed on, guests still get enthralled by the quick action taken by the United States military to further protect the harbor and the civilians who lived beyond.
For this milestone anniversary, there’s only one way to honor the fallen and the brave soldiers who were never quite the same after the surprise attack. While it’s important to tour exhibits like the USS Arizona Memorial and the decks of the Battleship Missouri, it’s even more of an honor to tour through the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific within the Punchbowl crater. Only here will you feel the magnitude of the losses suffered, not just on the day Pearl harbor was attacked, but across the entirety of World War II. Home to over 34,000 graves, the cemetery serves as a reminder of how many soldiers gave it all to provide safety during and after the war.
Pearl Harbor houses many additional exhibits and tributes that are more than worth exploring on the 75th Anniversary of the attacks.
Some of the tributes and memorials that are absolutely recommended include:
- Tour of the Battleship Missouri
- USS Arizona Memorial program
- Tour of the Bowfin submarine
- Pacific Aviation Museum
- The “Road to War” and “Attack and Aftermath” exhibits at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center
From the fallen heroes to the aviation used in the attack and during World War II, the many exhibits at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument are the best ways to pay tribute to the men and women who sacrificed during the 1941 attack and beyond.